Edwin Sutherland’s Differential Association Theory Links Deviance to
According to Sutherland’s Theory, Edwin Sutherland’s Differential Association Theory links deviance to various factors that influence individuals’ behaviour. This theory emphasises the role of social interactions and cultural norms in shaping an individual’s propensity towards deviant behaviour.
Differential Association Theory posits that individuals learn deviant behaviours through their associations with others who engage in such behaviours. According to Sutherland, these associations occur within primary groups, such as family and close friends, where values, attitudes, and techniques of criminality are transmitted.
By examining the quality and quantity of an individual’s associations, this theory seeks to explain why some people become involved in criminal activities while others do not. The theory suggests that if an individual associates more frequently with individuals who engage in deviant behaviour than with those who conform to societal norms, they are more likely to adopt those deviant behaviours themselves.
In conclusion, Edwin Sutherland’s Differential Association Theory offers valuable insights into understanding how deviance is linked to social interactions. By recognizing the influence of one’s associations on their likelihood of engaging in deviant activities, we can better comprehend the complexities surrounding criminal behaviour and develop effective strategies for prevention and intervention.
Understanding Edwin Sutherland’s Theory
Edwin Sutherland’s Differential Association Theory is a significant contribution to the field of criminology. This theory explores the link between deviance and social interactions, emphasising that individuals learn deviant behaviour through their associations with others.
According to Sutherland’s theory, deviant behaviour is not solely determined by individual characteristics or biological factors; rather, it is influenced by social processes.
Here are some key points to help us grasp the essence of Edwin Sutherland’s Differential Association Theory:
- Deviance as a learned behaviour: Sutherland argues that deviance is not inherent in individuals but rather acquired through socialisation. People become involved in deviant activities when they are exposed to favourable definitions of such behaviours within their social groups.
- The power of association: The theory emphasises that individuals learn both criminal and non-criminal behaviours from the people around them. If an individual associates more frequently with those who engage in criminal activities, they are more likely to adopt such behaviours themselves.
- Frequency and intensity: According to Sutherland, the frequency and intensity of exposure to deviant influences play a crucial role in shaping an individual’s likelihood of engaging in criminal behaviour. The more frequent and intense the contact with deviant peers or role models, the stronger the influence on one’s own behaviour.
- Normative conflict: When an individual receives conflicting messages regarding what constitutes appropriate behaviour from different reference groups (e.g., family versus friends), it can create confusion and increase the likelihood of engaging in deviant actions.
- Social learning process: Sutherland contends that learning occurs through a process of imitation, reinforcement, and differential association with significant others who provide models for both conformity and deviance.
- Cultural transmission: The theory suggests that cultural norms supporting criminal activities can be passed down from generation to generation within certain subcultures or communities where these behaviours are more prevalent.
By understanding these key aspects of Edwin Sutherland’s Differential Association Theory, we gain insights into the complex nature of deviance and how it is influenced by social interactions. This theory highlights the importance of considering social factors when studying criminal behaviour and provides a framework for understanding the mechanisms through which individuals learn and engage in deviant actions.